Top players by position: Grayson continues to produce top defensive linemen

Tucker defensive player Dawson Rivers (3) helps on a sack of Mt. Zion quarterback Ty Rogers.
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Tucker defensive player Dawson Rivers (3) helps on a sack of Mt. Zion quarterback Ty Rogers.

Since it opened in 2000, Grayson has produced 16 defensive linemen who earned consensus three-star or better rankings in the 247Sports Composite. The most famous is Robert Nkemdiche, the nation’s No. 1 recruit from 2012 who played in the NFL.

The latest are Victoine Brown and Noah Collins. And they aren’t simply good prospects. Each was a first-team all-region performer in 8-7A last season, and they’re committed to Division I schools.

Grayson’s 16 are the most of any Georgia school this century. Stephenson (13), Cedar Grove (11), Buford (10) and Sandy Creek (10) are next.

Outstanding defensive linemen seem to come in pairs this season. Douglas County has one going to Georgia, Jonathan Jefferson, and another to Georgia Tech, Josh Robinson. Lowndes also has a couple of blue-chippers, though only Thomas Davis made this subjective list. Defensive end and teammate Jacques Hunter also is a D-I recruit.

*Victoine Brown, Grayson: Brown (6-4, 225) had six tackles for losses, one sack and 11 QB hurries and made first-team all-region in 2019. The consensus No. 33 overall senior prospect in Georgia, Brown committed to Louisville in March.

*Noah Collins, Grayson: Collins (6-3, 215) had six tackles for losses, two sacks and 15 QB hurries and made first-team all-region in 2019. The consensus No. 53 overall senior prospect in Georgia, Collins committed to Georgia Tech, flipping from Central Florida, in May.

*Thomas Davis, Lowndes: Davis (6-2, 220) was the Region 1-7A defensive player of the year as a junior and made GACA first-team all-state. He had 16.5 tackles for losses as a defensive tackle. The consensus No. 78 overall recruit in Georgia, Davis committed to Miami in July, flipping from his original choice of Mississippi State.

*Marlin Dean, Elbert County: Dean made first-team all-region last season as a left tackle, but he plays on both sides, and he’s being recruited as a defensive lineman. He’s 6-6, 260, and still considered raw. He was Elbert’s nose guard last season. Dean is the consensus No. 34 overall prospect in Georgia, making him the state’s top interior DL prospect among seniors. Dean backed off a commitment to Georgia in July.

*Jonathan Jefferson, Douglas County: Jefferson (6-4, 285) had 50 solo tackles, 28 behind the line, 15 of which were sacks, in just 10 games in 2019. He has picked up 30 pounds in the offseason. He is the highest-rated recruit from Douglas County since linebacker Norman Cowins in the mid-1990s. Jefferson, a defensive tackle, is the consensus No. 13 senior prospect in Georgia. He committed to Georgia in March.

*Dawson Rivers, Tucker: Rivers is the only player on this list who led his team in tackles in 2019. He had five sacks and 11 other tackles for losses. A defensive end, he was first-team all-Region 4-6A. He’s only 6-1, 210, so he’s a low three-star prospect with only five Division I offers.

*Joshua Robinson, Douglas County: Robinson (6-5, 235) had 33 solo tackles, 10 behind the line, and nine sacks in 2019 as a defensive end. The No. 47 senior prospect in the state, he committed to Georgia Tech in May.

*Nathan Vickers, Richmond Hill: Vickers (6-2, 210) isn’t the same blue-chip recruit as others on this list, but his production can’t be denied. He had 14 sacks, 25 other tackles for losses, 17 QB hurries and a blocked punt in 2019, when he was his region’s defensive player of the year and made the Class 6A all-state team. Vickers had seven sacks in the playoffs. Vickers got his first scholarship offer, from Presbyterian, in April.

*Tyre West, Tift County: West (6-3, 260) is a top-10 overall recruit among Georgia juniors. He was the only sophomore defensive player to make first-team all-Region 1-7A last season. A starter since he was a freshman, West has eight sacks and 17 other tackles for losses in his short career. Tift County hasn’t had a comparable college prospect since offensive lineman and future NFL player Clay Shiver was a Parade All-American in 1990. Georgia and Auburn are his reported leaders.

*Mykel Williams, Hardaway: Williams (6-5, 255) is the top prospect in school history, or at least since quarterback Wayne Johnson in the mid-1980s. As a sophomore, he had 20 tackles for losses and 12 sacks and made the AJC’s first-team all-state team. A defensive tackle, he’s the consensus No. 54 overall national recruit among juniors.

Coming Tuesday: Offensive linemen

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